Postseason Picture for Monday, Sept. 8

Postseason Picture for Monday, Sept. 8

The Pirates are back in the mix, the Brewers need a quick fix, and the Orioles, Angels, Nationals and Cardinals seem to be running away with their divisions just for kicks. This was all evident Sunday as the Pulse of the Postseason continued to beat, but it counted for only a portion of the action that took place on the diamonds of the American and National Leagues as September continued to steam toward October.

The Royals beat the Yankees in New York and held their two-game advantage over Detroit in the AL Central, and the Wild Card races kept living up to their name. The Tigers cut the Mariners' lead to a half-game for the second slot in the AL, while the A's lost again and only have a two-game cushion over Seattle for the first spot. In the NL, the Giants kept a comfortable lead for the top Wild Card spot despite their loss to Detroit, and Pittsburgh snuck back into the second slot, with the Brewers and Braves a mere half-game back.

IF THE POSTSEASON STARTED TODAY ...

American League

Wild Card: Mariners at A's

Division Series: Wild Card at Angels | Royals at Orioles

National League

Wild Card: Pirates at Giants

Division Series: Wild Card at Nationals | Cardinals at Dodgers

Postseason picture

How about those Pirates? A recent hot stretch coupled with Milwaukee's recent struggles, and look at them now. They're conjuring thoughts of 2013 by pulling into Wild Card contention, knocking the Brewers out of a mathematical playoff spot for the first time since Milwaukee was 2-2 on April 4.

They're also getting the magic back, which was shown Sunday with the first career home run off the bat of starter Gerrit Cole.

Things weren't nearly as rosy for the Brewers, who need to figure out how to turn this thing around in a hurry. After losing to St. Louis by a 9-1 score on Sunday, the Milwaukee veterans held a players-only meeting and addressed the team's recent slump.

"Something like that kind of wakes you up," Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "We got punched in the mouth today. It's about time we woke up from the little trance we've been in and move forward here."

Meanwhile, the Royals look to be moving forward to a place they haven't occupied since 1985: postseason baseball. And on Sunday, they managed to keep their hold on the AL Central with a 2-0 victory over the Yankees before a sold-out crowd in the Bronx celebrating Derek Jeter Day.

Kansas City's series against Detroit figures to be the most dramatic of the early week, but there are other good games on tap for Monday as the Pulse of the Postseason quickens with each day.

The Indians will try to stay in the Wild Card picture, but it won't be easy with the team with the best record in baseball (the 87-55 Angels) coming to Progressive Field. The Braves will find themselves in a similar situation against Washington, but they'll have to get it done on the road at Nationals Park.

TODAY'S KEY GAMES TO WATCH (all times ET)

Angels (Weaver, 15-8) at Indians (Salazar, 6-6), 1:05 p.m. Preview

The Tribe loves Danny Salazar's arm and potential, and it would love to see him reach it in this game against the team with the best record in the game.

Royals (Guthrie, 10-10) at Tigers (Verlander, 12-12), 4:08 p.m. Preview

Justin Verlander has always been at his best at this time of year, but his recent inconsistency has the Tigers puzzled. He can go a long way in regaining confidence by dealing in this pivotal matchup.

Braves (Minor, 6-9) at Nationals (Fister, 12-6), 7:05 p.m. Preview

Mike Minor has improved over the second half of the season, and the Braves will need his best effort to take care of a tough Nationals team, which has enjoyed stellar work from Doug Fister of late.

Marlins (Penny, 1-1) at Brewers (Gallardo, 8-8), 8:10 p.m. Preview

The Brewers are reeling, but they've got to have confidence in their ace, Yovani Gallardo, who gets the ball in a key home-series opener.

A's (Gray, 13-8) at White Sox (Noesi, 8-9), 8:10 p.m. Preview

The A's will have to regain their good vibes on the road, but at least they have their de facto ace on the hill against Chicago in Sonny Gray.

Astros (Peacock, 4-8) at Mariners (Hernandez, 14-5), 10:10 p.m. Preview

Seattle returns from a successful road trip and puts the ball in the hand of Felix Hernandez, who's not only the staff ace but one of the front-runners for this year's AL Cy Young Award.

Watch the races on MLB.TV

MAGIC NUMBERS

To calculate a team's magic number, take the number of games it has remaining and add one. Then subtract the difference in the number of losses between that team and its closest pursuer.

AL East: Orioles 12 over Yankees

AL Central: Royals 19 over Tigers

AL West: Angels 14 over A's

AL Wild Card 1: A's 19 over Mariners

AL Wild Card 2: Mariners 20 over Tigers

NL East: Nationals 14 over Braves

NL Central: Cardinals 16 over Pirates

NL West: Dodgers 17 over Giants

NL Wild Card 1: Giants 17 over Pirates

NL Wild Card 2: Pirates 20 over Braves and Brewers

Standings

TIEBREAKER SCENARIOS

A tiebreaker game will be played to determine a division winner, even if the tied clubs are assured of participating in the postseason. If a division championship tiebreaker is necessary, the head-to-head record between the clubs will determine home-field advantage. If the head-to-head record is tied, then division record will be the next tiebreaker.

If two clubs are tied for the two Wild Card berths, home-field advantage will be determined by the head-to-head record between the clubs. If the head-to-head record is tied, then division record will be the next tiebreaker.
Tiebreaker rules

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.